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Knitter shows patriotism

July 17, 2003|by JENNIFER SMITS

jennifers@herald-mail.com

Minnie Manspeaker has turned a love of crocheting into a gift-giving enterprise that extends to the United States Postal Service.

The mother of three, grandmother of six and great-grandmother of five has been crocheting since she was 12 years old. She has made everything from bedspreads to baby blankets and even crocheted a bathing suit for her daughter-in-law.

"I can make anything," Manspeaker said.

Her most recent work, a large American flag, hangs in the post office on Franklin Street in Hagerstown. It's there at the suggestion of Tim McCoy, a post office employee who knew of Manspeaker's talent for crocheting.

"She's just a walking knitting machine," he said.

He said Manspeaker always makes little holiday items, like hearts for Valentine's Day, or ornaments at Christmas, and mails them to friends. Sometimes she gives those items to postal workers, as well, which is how he knew she could crochet, McCoy said.

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This year, as the Fourth of July neared, McCoy said he thought it would be "nice to hang a patriotic symbol" in the post office. With the postmaster's approval, he asked Manspeaker about the flag.

Manspeaker said she was happy to donate it.

"I go in there and mail letters so that I can look at it," she said.

She crafted her first flag during the Vietnam War as a gift for her son, who served in the war, she said.

"I was so proud when I made that first one," Manspeaker said.

The flags can take her from two weeks to two months to make, depending on how much time she spends working on them, she said.

She said the 50 stars are the hardest part of the flag to craft. She makes each one and then sews them onto the flag, she said.

After that first flag, Manspeaker said she did not crochet another large one until two years ago, when she wanted to do something for the victims of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks in New York.

She made a flag for the American Legion in Hagerstown to auction and the proceeds went to help the victims of 9/11.

"I said I'll do something for them because every little bit helps," Manspeaker said.

She said that flag took her two weeks to complete. She stayed up until 3 a.m. so she could finish it quickly.

Since then, Manspeaker has made more flags. One of them hangs on the fourth floor of Washington County Hospital, and she has made flags for her children and grandchildren, she said. She hopes eventually to make a flag for each of her great-grandchildren.

"I'll probably make a lot more before it's all over," Manspeaker said.

She said she gives away most of the items she crochets and likes to bake cakes for her neighbors. It is her belief, she said, that the more you give in life, the more you get out of it.

"I just give them away to make people happy," she said.

Manspeaker said crocheting is a nice hobby that gives her something to do.

"Instead of sitting around doing nothing, I just make something," she said.

Manspeaker said she has taught one of her granddaughters to crochet and has taught other people in the past.

She said she plans to make more flags.

"Everybody always asks me, 'When are you making me a flag?'" Manspeaker said.

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